Drug ban: Pfizer benches Corex, Abbott goes to court

  • Himani Chandna, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Mar 14, 2016 17:12 IST
Abbott’s headquarters: The company will contest Indian government’s ‘unilateral approach’ on banning its cough syrup Phensedyl. (Handout)

The government’s ban on 350-odd drugs to curb the misuse of medicines in India has landed American pharma giants Pfizer and Abbott in a fix.

Abbott, the maker of popular cough syrup Phensedyl, has approached Delhi high court against the ministry of health and family welfare’s order banning its popular over the counter brand (OTC).

“Abbott has reviewed the DCGI notification and we are concerned about the unilateral approach in prohibiting the manufacture, sale and distribution of certain fixed dose combinations that have already been approved for use by DCGI. We are evaluating the notification and exploring all available options,” the Abbott spokesperson told HT.

Abbott Healthcare is a unit of US-based Abbott Laboratories. Abbott Laboratories also has a listed subsidiary in India, Abbott India Ltd. The sales of Phensedyl, based on Codeine, an opium derivative, are estimated to be more than 3% of Abbott’s $1 billion India revenue. Abbott’s global annual sales of over $20 billion.

On other hand, Pfizer has discontinued manufacture and sale of popular cough syrup Corex with immediate effect after the ban on fixed dose combination of Chlopheniramine Maleate+Codeine Syrup.

“This is to inform you that the government of India, vide notification... dated March 10, 2016... has prohibited the manufacture for sale, sale and distribution of fixed dose combination of Chlopheniramine Maleate + Codeine Syrup with immediate effect,” Pfizer said in a Bombay Stock Exchange (BSE) filing on Monday.

It further said: “In view of this, the company has discontinued the manufacture and sale of its drug Corex with immediate effect.”

The stock of the company plunged by as much as -8.67% or 167.05 points to end Monday at 1,760.80 on the BSE .

Pfizer however reiterated that that Corex maintains a “well established efficacy and safety profile in India” and the “company is exploring all available options at its disposal.”

It also said, “The above prohibition is likely to have an adverse impact on the revenue and profitability of the company... Corex recorded sale of Rs 176 crore for the nine-month period ended December 31, 2015.”

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